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I Did Read This Book and I Think It Is Awful


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Initial post: Jul 19, 2006 11:28:37 PM PDT
C. Dugan says:
I checked this book out of the library and read it. I have tried twice to post the following review over the past five days, but it has never seen the light of day. The following is what Amazon apparently doesn't think appropriate for the review page of Whelchel's book:

In Lisa Whelchel's parenting advice book, "Creative Correction," we get a glimpse of the childhoods of her three children through their mother's eyes. One wonders which of her offspring will write the tell-all book of the 2020's detailing the other side of the story - through the child's eyes?

In the Whelchel household, big people can hit little people (although Whelchel insists on using the euphemism "spanking" rather than admitting the plain fact that she does indeed physically hit her children). She even forces her children to recite little rote memorized prayers thanking God for blessing them a Mommy who spanks.
(p. 265) But one gets the distinct impression that in the Whelchel household, spankings are designed to meet Mommy's needs and serve Mommy's convenience, not the child's; a good example on page 287 has Whelchel's daughter coming downstairs after her bedtime to complain of pains in her legs. But Lisa Whelchel's immediate response is simply to threaten her with a spanking for being out of bed.

But while big people can hit little people, little people, despite the violent behavior modeled to them by their elders, may not hit each other. When they do, Whelchel recommends forcing the hitter to wear boxing gloves the entire day without taking them off. When the child has difficulty performing routine tasks such as brushing teeth or eating, Whelchel exhorts her readers to further humiliate the child by making a home video of the spectacle. (p. 206)

With all the crazy-making mind games which the author plays with her children it comes as no surprise that her children fight with each other a lot. They can't take out their frustrations on Mrs. Whelchel, of course, but they can certainly take them out on each other. However, the author has more ways of dealing with sibling conflict than just the boxing glove video camera approach. She recommends handcuffing quarreling children to each other (p. 203) or binding their legs together as if in preparation for a three-legged race (p. 209) or forcing them to yell "I love you" to each other 20 times, or commanding them to hug one another regardless of how they are actually feeling at that moment (p. 203). These sorts of techniques do nothing to resolve underlying conflicts or addess their causes. They are merely methods
for driving conflict further underground where it becomes less noticable and hence less annoying for Lisa Whelchel.

In this book, Whelchel takes control-obsessed, punitive parenting to a whole new level. She warns her readers against allowing children any real autonomy at all: "When we allow our children to determine the outcome of a situation, even subtly, it weakens their trust in us." (p. 22) Eventually her children will grow up and will need to function as autonomous adults. When will they obtain practice determining the outcomes of their own life situations, as opposed to practice instantly obeying
Mommy, no matter how bizarre and irrational her demands?

Whelchel advises readers to give their children ridiculous commands in public which they must instantly obey without asking any questions, while refusing them permission when they make requests which Whelchel herself admits are perfectly legitimate. She writes: "As we walk along together shopping, I will suddenly give them silly commands that they must obey without arguing, such as 'Walk backward,' or 'Stop and touch your toes,' or 'Give me a kiss.' Occasionally I'll throw in a real command, like 'Don't touch that,' or `No, you may not have an Icee.' My favorite curve, however, is to say no to some reasonable request, like 'May I go to the bathroom?'" (p. 138)

Whelchel's "favorite curve?!?" Her baseball metaphor evokes a 'curve ball,' thrown by the pitcher in an attempt to make the batter fail to hit the ball. This is an excellent technique if you wish the person to whom you threw your curve ball to 'strike out,' i.e. to fail, to lose. But why would any sane parent wish to throw repeated metaphorical curve balls at her own children, especially out of the blue, in public places, for no reason in particular?

The answer is quite simple. Whelchel wrote this book for parents who view their children as an opposing team to be defeated. Such parents will likely deem this book a fount of wisdom and may even rush to Amazon.com to write glowing reviews of it.

But childrearing does not require a series of contests, each concluding with a winner and a loser. It is possible, and preferable, to have a family in which everybody "wins."

For more on win/win approaches to child discipline, read "Parent Effectiveness Training" by Thomas Gordon. Leave Whelchel's book alone, except perhaps as a preface to the as-yet-unwritten "Mommy Dearest II" memoir which one or more of her grown children may eventually write once they have safely grown up and
escaped her reach. Hopefully writing it will assist in their long, difficult journey of recovery from having been raised with the methods outlined in this book.

Chris

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2006 5:21:40 AM PDT
I have watched with growing dismay as honest, 1-star reviews of this book have been systematically removed. A few weeks ago, this book had 103 reviews, and an average rating of 3.5 stars. Then it had 127 reviews, and an average rating of 3 stars. Suddenly, nearly all the 1-star reviews were removed! A few days ago it had only 83 reviews, and the average rating was 4.5 stars. Now a few more 1-star reviews have been added back, and the rating is 4 stars.

Perez Hilton, a commentator on Hollywood stars, clued the public in to the horrors in this book, which would be considered torture if done to prisoners in Guantanamo or to Iraqis. The author of this book was a Hollywood star, but has no further education beyond high school and certainly is no expert on children. Her children now have emotional issues, which the author admits to. Yet she blindly clings to the false idea that hitting people, putting noxious substances into their mouths, making them obey absurd commands and denying them the basic right to use the toilet, makes them into productive, happy people. The opposite is the case.

The author of this book clearly needs help, but I doubt she will ever seek it. Her children have been ruined for life, and will spend their adulthood in anger and dealing with the traumas they suffered as children.

I deeply resent calling the techniques in this book "Godly". I am a Christian, and the most important thing a Christian can do is treat others with respect and tolerance, and to uplift the lowly and weak. Jesus had a profound respect for children and said they are the highest in the Kingdom of Heaven. He said we should follow the Golden Rule. This book may make sadists and revengeful people feel good, but it will not lead to Christlike behavior or "Godly" children. The author of this book needs to read about Jesus and how He wanted us to treat others. And she needs to realize that Jesus' wisdom is greater than any wisdom in the punishing verses of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Jesus said His wisdom was greater than that wisdom, right in the book of Matthew.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 23, 2007 9:31:47 AM PDT
Jules says:
Amen to "Loving Christian Mom"! I came to Amazon looking for this book because it was recommended on my church's website for families. I have been having some discipline issues with my 2 sweet daughters and thought I would check it out. After reading the reviews, I WILL NOT be buying this book! A child's psyche is a fragile thing and must be handled delicately, not manipulated and twisted into submission. I try to be honest and straightforward in disciplining my children, so they can learn to make wise decisions for themselves in life. Forcing children into submission to your ideas will only promote rebellion later in life. Thank you for your honest review and ideas. You saved me $15 and the waste of my time in reading this book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2007 5:35:00 PM PDT
JDE says:
In the past, I've found that Amazon's editorial staff removes posts that are critical of books written by conservative Christians. I have to think that there is a pro-evangelical bias in evidence.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2008 11:20:23 PM PDT
Warrior02 says:
Loving Christian Mom, if I could, I'd hug you myself! It really saddens me that there simply aren't more Christians or "Facts" fans who oppose what Lisa Whelchel is saying. However, I think I understand why so many parents are crying her praises. I'm not a parent, but I have a really close friend who has three sons, ages 13, 10, and 4, and whenever I'm at her house they're a holy terror. Her two oldest, especially, are unbelievably disrespectful to both their parents and certainly to me whenever I visit (which isn't too often anymore). Both parents have to work long hours and in addition to her job, my friend is working on her college degree so that hopefully someday soon she can find a better paying job. At the end of the day they're both so exhausted that both parents are willing to buy them or fetch for them or give them anything just for a few moments of peace and quiet, which in turn is probably why they're so spoiled and so rude and disrespectful. Whelchel has been a stay-at-home mother (Lord help the kids!!!) but I'm sure that especially for working mothers like my friend who have inadvertently spoiled their children and now they're unbearable, it makes books like Whelchel's look very attractive. Again I don't know for certain because I don't have children, but I don't doubt that the same holds true for families where the mother doesn't have to work outside the home. I know that whenever I'm at my friend's house, though, I myself am more than tempted at times to grab those boys and beat the tar out of their behinds. But I refuse to buy it that that is the ONLY possible way to get through to children, however tempting they may make it at times. And, what would that do anyway, if I were to give in to my temptation? It would relieve my frustration for a moment, but it would cause more crying and screaming out of the boys, plus probably put a strain on my friendship since I was out of line anyway, LOL The point is, venting your frustration for a moment's time is never enough in the long run. One of my psychology professors said that statistically, it's been proven that corporal punishment DOES NOT WORK. It also saddens me that Lisa Whelchel and this book receive so much acclaim today when Lisa, who admits herself in this book that she is uneducated and not a child-rearing expert, hasn't even graduated college. It also saddens me that her fellow "Facts" cast members (Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, Nancy McKeon, and Charlotte Rae) refuse to speak out against treating children like this, or to at least say that they disagree with Whelchel and this book. As a fan, I kind of feel like their silence is a silent endorsement of it. I mean, where is good old "Mrs. Garrett," now that she's needed the most?

Posted on Oct 29, 2011 2:53:53 PM PDT
Heather E. says:
Holy cow.

C. Dugan, some of the things you've quoted from the book sound exactly like DOG training. I know a woman who has a very high-strung dog that needs to be kept under control in a small city apartment; she will sometimes order the dog to sit at the top of the stairs while she goes down, and give it permission to follow her only when she gets to the bottom. To instill unconditional obedience, I guess. That's fine. For a dog.

If I saw anyone treating a *child* that way...

Here is a good quote from Christian author Tim Kimmel: "Our job as parents is to build character, not correct behavior." It isn't just that the methods are overly harsh and could easily be used as child abuse. It's also that no matter HOW they're used they're behaviorist conditioning. If my kid was turning 25 and trying to make mature choices about marriage, friendships, work, money, and how best to live out life's true meaning, and all I had given her for that journey was conditioning to instantly obey me... I'd be in sackcloth and ashes. (Ha, how biblical.) I'd forever regret not focusing my teaching on how to be a good human being. Rather than a good dog.

I am also a Christian and I find this stuff appalling.
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Discussion in:  Creative Correction forum
Participants:  6
Total posts:  6
Initial post:  Jul 19, 2006
Latest post:  Oct 29, 2011

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Creative Correction (Focus on the Family Book)
Creative Correction (Focus on the Family Book) by Lisa Whelchel (Hardcover - September 5, 2000)
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